Founder of Her Life Speaks
Growing up I was independent, inventive, and competitive. These may sound like equipping traits to have and, in my case, they were necessary to be in the game and show face. I grew a “hard shell” on the outside stemming from what was on the inside; hurt, shame, abuse, abandonment and isolation. I didn’t want anyone or need anyone, a lie I believed. So my “I’m okay” attitude morphed into my pride of autonomy.
I was disconnected and didn’t make myself vulnerable to ask for what I wanted or
needed. I endured the pain of emptiness and unworthiness by not having solutions,
resources, tools or a mentor. My pride got in the way of reaching out for help, wise
counsel, and God.
It takes a lot of work to wear a hard shell camouflaged as a cry for help.
As we rounded the corner of the one year anniversary in a pandemic and legitimate
isolation, I’ve spent a lot of time reading my Bible. I’m thankful for this time as God
showed me many Truths that suddenly saturated my soul and heart like never before
and encouraged me in my journey of healing and restoration from lies I believed.
These truths are:
I’ve known these truths well but it’s been in this season that strongholds of disbelief are
breaking. When I let go of my pride and choose to believe and not default to my old way
of thinking, I feel the Holy Spirit moving. There’s a gentle easy feeling. A comfort that
just lets me default to God. And believe Him.
Questions for contemplation:
By Liz Rodriguez
Global Outreach Coordinator | Her Life Speaks
I was living in the USA on a medical visa, but my desire to attend college would require me to change my status to a student visa. Changing a visa status would also mean I would need to go back to the Dominican. This was a risk.
Immediately upon arriving in the Dominican, I set up an appointment with a well-known Dominican lawyer. She advised me that I did not have the financial status needed and this was when God was about to teach me to walk by faith. He gently reminded me that He has a plan for my life.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:1
I felt led to start a Bible study with my neighbor. I had never done this before, but I began teaching my neighbor about Abraham. God began teaching both of us to trust Him.
My next step was to apply for a student visa at the embassy. I walked in nervous, but hopeful. My heart sank when the official denied my request...a door had closed. I had a deadline of a few weeks to receive this visa or I would lose my chance.
I cried out to God to show me what to do. He directed me to continue the Bible study and talk to my neighbor about Abraham‘s faith walk. I clung to God and asked Him to direct my steps.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
Meanwhile in the USA, my lawyer and American Mom gathered documents and asked the church to pray. I returned to the embassy with a renewed hope. Due to traffic delays and an accident, I arrived late to my appointment. In frustration I was crying, but God reminded me through my mother to trust Him and to surrender everything to Him.
As I waited, I was shaking and noticed that the same officer that denied me was there to interview me. I asked God to lead me. Moments before it was my turn, there was a change in officers. The new officer called my name, and in five minutes, my student visa was approved!
With one day left before the deadline, I flew to the USA to pursue my dream. God had provided a way, where there seemed to be no way.
“For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19
God has a plan for us and He will guide us even when we face trials. Surrendering to Him and His timing grows our faith even amidst trials.
If I had gotten my visa right away, I would not have led the Bible study with my neighbor nor would I have seen the power of prayer, but most of all I would not have grown in faith as I did.
What do you do when trials come your way? Do you run towards God? Or away from Him? Do you trust His plans?
By April Sliwak
Can we just say… ahhhhh…. GOOD-BYE 2020.
I think we can all agree that 2020 was the most unusual year we’ve ever had, at least in my lifetime. It was a year of loss, disappointment, and anger. But I’d like to be honest and tell you that on top of all the events and emotions that took place in the world, some of us, including myself, were dealing with added pain of grieving someone close to you. This kind of suffering was new to me and something I’ve never experienced before. Grief is hard.
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he saves those whose spirits are crushed. Psalm 34:18
It was a year ago that my father passed away. By God’s grace, we just had a beautiful weekend together doing some of his favorite things; playing cards, eating good food, and telling stories. That evening God called him home. It was shocking and heartbreaking yet as a believer, I felt peaceful. In hindsight, I was so thankful the Lord gave us that last weekend together. Then on a turn of events, (a calendar page), the year 2020 was upon us with all of its uncertainties and loss.
My grief grew and it was all around me. It followed me like a shadow, it was enhanced with every new worldly news event and with the void of family and friends. I didn’t see my mom on Easter, which was hard because it was the first time without my father and without my mother. A family wedding was postponed, family traditions were broken like gathering for Thanksgiving and birthdays. My friends who are so important to me, still haven’t been together in our usual ways. Grief, loss, pain, anger, brokenheartedness, tears. Anybody? Then one day out of the blue in November, my daughter texted me:
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Philippians 3:20
It still brings me to tears as I write this. That was it for me. I snapped out of it and remembered that everything we see through our broken eyes and flesh, is temporary. All of it. I’m passing through this season in history. It doesn’t make the grief less real, just less painful because my hope is in my citizenship in heaven; my permanent home, my everlasting home, without pain and suffering, with my dad, and with Jesus.
How about you? Believer, knowing that our time here is temporary how does this help you to have peace going forward in 2021?
If you want to become a follower of Christ, simply ask the Savior to come into your life, admitting you are a sinner, asking for forgiveness and do your best to turn from your sin. Jesus will live in your heart and you will be a citizen with Him in heaven forever.
I’d love to hear your comments on grief, loss and hope. God loves you.
By Susanne Ciancio
God solved a problem for me in a very roundabout way during the pandemic. My story in a nutshell is that I’ve found something that has truly brought about change at a transformational level for clients, friends and ultimately for myself! He hasn’t wasted one bit of this time of quarantine and He is always pursuing us with His Grace and Truth. Transformation is a big Bible principle and the subject of many Sunday morning sermons. The good news of the Gospel is that it’s not just for Sundays and Bible studies. God has come near and brought all of His benefits and resources for anyone and everyone.
In my search for strategies, exercises and meditations to support clients’ clinical work for stress and anxiety I happened upon something rather spectacular! A client with PTSD shared an app she uses to relax and de-stress. Of course, I had to check it out before I passed it on. It turned out to be the answer to something I’ve been praying about since 2018. But it exceeded what I had been seeking The Lord about. (More about my story later.)
The App my client told me about is called The One Minute Pause. It’s free, simple and easy which is spectacular in itself...but the best part is the cumulative effects. It keeps working even when you’re not working it! The app is based on a new book by John Eldredge called, “Get Your Life Back.” During the time of the pandemic so many are desiring to get their old lives back. Understandable! But this app is not about getting your old life back This is more like getting the life you always wanted.... which is the life God planned for you. There are inspirational excerpts from the book included in the app along with 4 “pauses” ranging from 1-10 minutes. There’s beautiful music and Eldredge himself instructing us to give everything and everyone to Jesus. His voice and the language are very calming and peaceful. They make one recommendation: set an alarm so that twice daily you receive an alert on your phone to remind you it’s time for The Pause.
The beauty of the app and why I’m distinguishing it from other similar apps is because of the aftereffects! As I intentionally engage with the right hemisphere of my brain during The Pause, I simultaneously disengage with my left brain effortlessly. The left brain is my enquiring mind that wants to know...information, facts, doctrine but it can also lead me down needless rabbit holes of fear, anxiety and worry. Christian psychiatrist Curt Thompson says in his book, The Anatomy of the Soul, that we sense who God is in our right brains. The right hemisphere experiences life viscerally, creates images...senses things like who God is and how He feels about us. Our right brains are designed to then send messages over to the left brain to “make sense of what we sense.” *
When I begin to understand my hardwiring, I can tend to my soul like a wise and loving gardener tends to his garden. As I choose what I’ll focus on (and in turn what not to focus on) changes are made on the cellular level. Structural changes are made in our very DNA as we release pressures and anxieties to the Lord. **
Why does this app work so well? What’s the secret? Could it be that the discipline and direction the app provides causes us to slow down and when we slow down, we find ourselves on Gods’ frequency? And that frequency is always rest! *** There are many “calm” apps and they’re probably all effective to some degree. What’s different about this app is the spiritual foundations. It’s the language of the Bible and abiding and union with The Lord.
The One Minute Pause had and is still having an impact on me personally. After several months of doing The Pause at least twice a day I started noticing character changes in me. Stress would arise and I would be much quicker to release it. I’d be more mindful, less reactive, able to connect with “the heart Jesus gave me.” **** Doing the pause was a delight and very uplifting! But the changes I saw in myself were more internal—it felt like the sheer joy of transformation! And I wasn’t even trying! I was just enjoying the music and language of The Pause.
The initial answer to prayer I received was being able to come back in the evening to the same restful state in which I started out my mornings. I would be reminded by the alert on my phone or iPad at 7:00 or 8:00 PM to do a pause and sometimes my husband would join in. This was new for me and a victory. That was a long-standing goal I had for myself, but I never was intentional about setting any times or disciplines to achieve this. Consequently, I had no results prior to The Pause.
Is there an area of your life that you would really like a victory? Have you tried and tried? How about substituting training and practicing for all that trying? Prayerfully, you just may discover as I did that the most important spiritual tool we have is releasing or surrendering! It does require consistency...Just a word of caution, don’t try this at home! TRAIN! It takes as little as a 1-3 minutes a day. Do you have a couple of minutes a day? I pray you’ll take the challenge. What have you got to lose? Some anxiety or fear? Some weight? Some irritability? Trauma? Or stuck-ness? The cumulative download you receive from practicing will be worth it! 2 Cor. 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Colossians 1:26-27 the mystery that has been hidden throughout all the ages.... Christ in you, the hope of Glory. (Paraphrased)
We have a lifetime guarantee!
Happy Pausing! Let me know if there’s an area in your life you’re thinking The Pause may help with. Please leave a comment below.
*Restoring the Soul podcast featuring John Michael Cusick LPC with Dr. Curt Thompson, M.D.
**Curt Thompson, M.D., The Anatomy of the Soul.
***Bob Hamp, “Think Differently Learn Differently” from Think Differently Academy (see website TDACAD.com)
**** “Living from the heart Jesus gave me” is a term Dallas Willard used in his writings and lectures
By: Morgan Collignon
2020 was the year I had been looking forward to because the events that were going to take place were the ones I had been waiting for my whole life. I was expected to graduate with my doctoral degree, begin my first full time job as an Audiologist, and marry the love of my life after almost two years of engagement with a lavish honeymoon in St. Lucia to follow. This was no doubt going to be my year! When March came around, all of my countdowns to start the rest of my life seemed to be in reach. Then, COVID19 struck the world. I was in such denial that this year could potentially be flipped upside down and my plans would have to change. As it started to get closer and things like my bridal shower and graduation were postponed, reality set it. I grieved for a few days, but then, with the support from my fiancée, I remembered that my plans might not be the plans God has for me.
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper
you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”.
With the level of uncertainty that surrounded our wedding, all we could do was put our faith in God to get us through. Psalm 56:3 “When I am afraid I put my trust in You.” By putting my trust in God, something happened during the pandemic that I never could have predicted. The quarantine ended up being the biggest blessing for my life and my relationship. During that time, Austin and I continued our pre-marital counseling virtually with our pastor, we spent more time together focusing on ways to make our relationship better, and we grew exponentially in our faith. Austin and I joined a community group within our church and dove into lots of bible study! All things we’ve wanted to do but always put off until we “had more time.” We were still unsure of what the outcome of our wedding would be, but as we grew in our faith we came to realize that the sacrament of marriage is so much more than an extravagant wedding. It is about two souls joining together in a covenant with God.
Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own
understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.”
We decided to have a small wedding in the backyard with our closest family members. It turned out to be even more incredible than anything we could have ever planned. It was truly the best day of my life because God was at the center of it all. It still came with its fair share of challenges and hurdles, but it turned out to be exactly what God had planned for us all along!
What challenges and uncertainties are you facing that you can place at God’s feet, trusting that He will take care of it? I would love to hear about it.
Her Life Speaks is all about Her testimony, Her life, and who God is in Her story. Here we write our stories in hopes of helping other women find their relationship with Jesus Christ.